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History of Tattoos - Ancient Ink

Author: Bob Matheson

Tattoos are a passionate topic these days. People get tattoos for many reasons. Millions of designs have been applied and continue to be created. But tattoos are not a new thing. The history of tattoos is a novel, not a short story, and they've been around for a long time.

Oetzi The Iceman

No one is able to really say exactly when the history of tattoos all started. The most ancient established tattoo was exposed in 1991. It was found on a mummy known as Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be not less than 5300 years old. His tattoos consist of horizontal and vertical lines. There is a certain amount of debate as to the reason the tattoos are there.

Upon finding the remains, anthropologists have been able to do little but presume that this most primeval type of tattoo was for the purpose of warding off evil spirits, or that it may have been a particular type of rite-of-passage.

The most pervasive suggestion is that the tattoos were created for healing reasons. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are positioned over a number of joints on the body. The idea is that the tattoos were made as a form of acupuncture was practiced to relieve tender joints. In our day, the identical locations are used for acupuncture. Additional ideas vary from social class and ritual markings to tribal symbols or just preference.

Collectively on his spine and behind one knee and on one ankle, the Ice Man had approximately fifty-seven tattoos. Although it is difficult to do more than speculate as to the actual reason for them, it positively shows that tattoos should not be seen as unique to the current period.

As the Ice Man is the oldest mummified human remains found in Europe, today's tattoo affectionados have history on their side-- there's nothing "contemporary" about the history of tattoos.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians have one of the most renowned ancient societies for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been shown to be adorned in various tattoos. Women displayed tattoo designs that were restricted to females only. These designs were customarily a series of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos among the Egyptians are thought to have been forms of ritual markings.

Oriental Tattoos

In Japan, tattoos were initially used on clay figures. These human shaped figures represented a departed individual and were found in the tombs of the individual they resembled. The tattoos had been carved or painted on the faces of the figures. It is believed that these designs possess religious or mystical significance. The figures have been found to be in burying places that have been dated from 3,000 BC.

Japan's first acknowledged tattoo is from 297 AD and has been demonstrated to be for ornamental purposes only. Tattoo designers were known as the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were acknowledged as masters and eventually created the full body suit tattoo.

Although Oriental symbols are extremely fashionable for tattoos in America, it is not commonly known that both the Japanese and Chinese cultures have held a fervent opposition to the custom of tattooing throughout history. With both societal and religious viewpoints agreeing that tattooing is a ritual that should not be practiced, it's still deemed to be a way of contaminating one's body. For the ancient Chinese, tattooing was employed as a penalty for criminal activity, putting such visible marks on a person to forever brand him as a criminal.

Tattoos have been found to be present in history all over the world. They have been determined to be a representation of an assortment of things such as social rank, religious conviction and many times merely for adornment. Found on males and females alike, tattoos are discovered in every shape, dimension and color pattern conceivable. Whether they have been demonstrated to be something that was previously held sacred or they are for decoration only, tattoos have been here for ages and will continue to be around for a long time to come.

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